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^'APRIL 2009 







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Bob Duncan 

pril heralds the fine 

tradition of spring 
gobbler season. We're so 
blessed; turkey numbers 
are generally up in most 
areas of the state. Maybe 
part of the thrill is just 
the sheer excitement of 
getting outdoors again, 
enjoying longer periods 
of daylight after being 
shut down by winter's 

As Ken Perrotte's 
story illustrates, gobbler 
antics can leave the 
most ardent hunter 
scratching his head, but 
most will admit — under pressure, per- 
haps — that gobbler chasing is absolutely 
thrilling and so very rewarding when suc- 

1 suspect that most of us started out 
gobbler hunting by tagging along with 
someone who knew what they were 
doing! And maybe that particular some- 
one called in a bird for us. Unfortunately, 
my first attempt was self- introduced (and 
the frustration, self-inflicted). My poor 
calling skills were exceeded only by my 
lack of knowledge about the 'art' of the 
hunt. Indeed, it was to be many years be- 
fore 1 decided to take up the sport again. 

The second time around, an experi- 
enced turkey hunter called in my first 
gobbler and 1 was hooked! 1 remain so 
today, and like many others, 1 anticipate 
another fine spring in Virginia's gobbler 

There is something very special 
about the camaraderie among turkey 










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hunters, who seem to 
truly enjoy each 
other's successes and 
experiences. And 
spending time afield 
with others is one of 
the surest ways to ex- 
pand your knowledge 
of the bird and hone 
your hunting skills. 
Teaming up with a 
hunting buddy is a 
great way to pursue a 
tough old gobbler. If 
you have already 
tagged out, for in- 
stance, you can ex- 
tend your season by 
calling one in for a partner. 

What I find most satisfying, how- 
ever, is the opportunity to introduce 
others to this fantastic sport. Consider 
tapping into our convenient apprentice 
hunter license to take someone out new 
to hunting, or invite an older hunter 
who has not yet tried his hand at turkey 
hunting. Every chance to pass along 
this fine tradition is time well spent, in 
my book. 

I would be remiss if 1 did not confess 
that some of my lost, or busted, opportu- 
nities afield — while quite disappointing 
and humbling at the time — have con- 
tributed much to my love of this most 
special game bird. Because of them, 1 
appreciate even more those occasions 
when things go right and Murphy is not 
along for the ride. 

Here's hoping that you continue 
your education and enjoy a safe, reward- 
ing time in pursuit of old tom! 

Mis.sion Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to mainUiin optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the 
rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as piovided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and prop- 
erty in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of 
and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 



Commonwealth of Virginia 
Timothy M. Kaine, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

L. Preston Bryant, Jr. 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
C. T. Hill, Midlothian 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
Thomas A. Stroup, Fairfax 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 

Emily Pels, Art Director 

Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 

Carol A. Heiser, Staff Contributor 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published month- 
ly by the Virginia Department of Game and Inlanc 
Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and address 
changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, Red Oak 
Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other communication!- 
concerning this publication to Virginia Wildlife, P. O 
Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond. 
Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates are $12.95 foi 
one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 per each back 
issue, subject to availability. Out-of-country rate it 
$24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. funds 
No refunds for amounts less than $5.00. To sub- 
scribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. Postmaster 
Please send all address changes to Virginia Wildlife 
P.O. Box 7477, Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Postage foi 
periodicals paid at Richmond, Virginia and addition- 
al entry offices. 

Copyright 2009 by the Virginia Department of Game' 
and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shal; 
afford to all persons an equal access to DepartmenI 
programs and facilities without regard to race, color 
religion, national origin, disability, sex, or age. If you 
believe that you have been discriminated against ir 
any program, activity or facility, please write to- 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
ATTN; Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broad Street.; 
P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general information- 
al purposes only and every effort has been made to 
ensure its accuracy. The information contained herein 
does not serve as a legal representation of fish and 
wildlife laws or regulations. The Virginia Department 
of Game and Inland Fisheries does not assume 
responsibility for any change in dates, regulations, or 
information that may occur after publication." 



About the cover: 

The eastern wild 
turkey, Meleagris 
gallopavo silvcstris, is 
frequently cited as 
one of the most 
challenging to hunt 
of the various North 
American species. 
See related story on 
page 12. 
photo ©John R. Ford 

\^ \m 




For subscriptions, 

circulation problems 

and address changes 



12 issues for $12.95 
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36 issues for $29.95 

{L Blue Cat Central 

by Marc N. McGlade 
A deep channel and underwater structures 
speak prime habitat to this fish. 

X A Stewardship Legacy 

by Marie Majarov 
Merrimac Farm protects sensitive habitats in 
one of Virginia's most populated hubs. 

|# Turkey Talk 

by Ken Perrotte 
With just the right combination ot patience 
and bird brains, you might close the deal. 

I M Unexpected Harvests 

by Beth Hester 
Education efforts celebrating our wild foods 
spring from a kitchen near the Pocaty River. 

22 Be a Habitat Partner 

by Carol A. Heiser 
Creating habitat diversity at home benefits all 
critters, including those of the human variety. 


Scouting + Virginia Naturally 
Schools = Fun! 

by Gail Brown 
This essay extols the century-long track record 
of young scouts in this state. 

#1C Chief Charlie's Kids 

by Marika Byrd 
The small town of Grottt:)es tells some mighty 
big tish tales on this day. 

Afield and Afloat 

30 Journal 

uZ Dining In 

Wild Turkey Jamhalaya 

39 Photo Tips 

Whose Distal Photogra[^h h This! 
34 On The Water 

What a Cahn Nipht to be So Rough! 

niijMarc McGlade 

Blue Cat 

The mighty and 

historic James River 

is home to the 

state-record blue 

catfish. There's 

more wl^ere that 

came from. 

By Marc N. McGlade 

atfish the size of large dogs 
are common in catfish-rich 
waters. Nothing could bet- 
ter describe the tidal stretch of the 
James River — Central Virginia's cur- 
rent record-holder for blue catfish. 

Of course, there are many more 
species to pursue in this majestic 
river, but presently an angler would 
be hard pressed to find a body of 
water anywhere in the country more 

productive for catching 20- to 70- 
pound blues. 

And that's no fish story. 

Catfish anglers and largemouth 
bass addicts vie for the most attention 
from Richmond to points southeast 
on the big waterway. Virginia has a 
storied past of promoting and host- 
ing the biggest bass tournaments of 
them all. Among them, Richmond 
and the James River hosted the Wal- 
Mart FLW Tour Championship in 
2003. The eventual winner, Lynch- 
burg native David Dudley, put 



As the James winds its way 
through marshes and history, anglers 
continue to try their best to beat the 
state-record blue catfish. The record 
has fallen quite a few times in recent 
years, and based on input from fish- 
eries biologists witli the Department 
(DGIF), it makes sense that this cur- 
rent record will be eclipsed by anoth- 
er monster " wliiskerfish." 

Blue Cat Facte 

Barbels, or whiskers, make catfish 
easily identifiable to novice anglers. 
Taste buds pepper these whiskers, 
wliich help the bottom dwellers lo- 
cate food. Catfish feed primarily by 
their sense of smell and taste. 

Like the chamiel cat, blue catfish 
(Ictnlunis furcatus) have a deeply 
forked tail. Other names for them are 
fork-tailed catfish, humpback, and 

Blue cats favor fish, crayfish, and 
mollusks. However, as blue catfish 
grow, if forage fish are abundant (as 
they are in the James River), they 
make a switch from bottom feeding 
to active predation. Blue cats will 
even chase gizzard shad and other 
forage onto flats in search of prey. 

$500,000 in his pocket courtesy of 
winning the first-place prize. At the 
time, that was the largest payday for 
a championship event in the history 
of competitive bass fishing. That was- 
n't the only championship to occur 
along the banks of the James. Bass 
Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) 
held their championship event, the 
BASS Masters Classic, three consecu- 
tive years on the tidally influenced 
river from 1988 to 1990. There are 
now serious catfish tournaments that 
take place on the river, as well. 

APRIL 2009 

The James River is a popular destina- 
tion for boaters and anglers. 
Above: Circle hooks help with catch- 
and-release fishing and rarely harm 
the fish. Page 4: Mike Atkinson, a 
James River catfishing expert, hoists 
a trophy blue cat he caught near 

Blue cats fovor fish, crayfish, and moUusks. 

"Large blue catfish prefer deep 
channels and gravitate to areas such 
as sunken barges, old pier pilings, or 
downed trees in the channel or adja- 
cent to channel drop-offs," said Bob 
Greenlee, a fisheries biologist with the 
Department. "Blue catfish can be clas- 
sified as generalists, which are well 
adapted and feed on what is abun- 



The state-record resident from the 
tidal James is impressive. On June 15, 
2006, Archie Gold caught a massive 
blue cat weighing 95 pounds, 11 

Blue catfish weighing 30 pounds 
or measuring 38 inches in length 
qualify for a trophy fish certificate 
from the DGIF. Clearly, this beast of a 
kitty cat met the mark. 

According to Greenlee, "The 
James River population has yet to 
come to 'equilibrium,' approximately 
35 years after the initial stockings in 
the 1973 to 1975 timeframe." 

He says this introduced popula- 
tion continues to expand its distribu- 
tion within the James River system 
and continues to increase in density 
in the freshwater tidal section of the 
main stem and major tributaries. Ad- 
ditionally, the upper limit of the size 
distribution continues to increase. 

"The first SO-pound blue cat was not 
reported from the James imtil 1 996 , " 
Greenlee explained. "For the past 
several years we have had over 100 
citations issued annually for blue cats 
over 50 pounds caught in the James or 
its tributaries. The upper end of the 
catch has increased by a I O-pound in- 
crement every three years or so." 

The biologist points out that an- 
glers can expect the James to contin- 
ue to produce 90-plus-pound fish in 
the near term. He adds that the po- 
tential for 100-plus pounders in the 
James indeed exists! 

"The James will eventually reach 
equilibrium, or some cyclic move- 
ment around a population level 
plateau," Greenlee said. "It is un- 
known when this wiU occur, and what 
the ramifications will be. The James is 
a very productive river system." 

The obvious question: Why does 
this incredible river continue to pro- 
vide a trophy fishery? Greenlee ex- 
plains there is no indication of a re- 
duction in gizzard shad abundance. 
Gizzard shad are the primary forage 
for large blue cats in the James. 

"There is a significant amount of 
commercial harvest of small, fillet- 
sized blue cats from the tidal James 
system," Greenlee stated, "and this 
removal of biomass may be contribut- 
ing to sustained growth rates." 

Tlie Big Picture 

Greenlee says the tidal James equals 
big, blue catfish. He would be sur- 
prised if there isn't another state- 
record blue cat swimming around in 
the river right now. 


Above and below: Big baits such as shad 
are the ticl<et for foob'ng giant blue cat- 
fish in the James River. 

Greeiilee feels compelled to men- 
tion an additional angle on the tidal 

"That would be the outstcinding 
crappie fishing available to anglers," 
he said. "The main stem tidal James 
and its tidal tributaries are home to an 
outstanding crappie population. 
There is an abundance of 12- to 14- 
inch crappies. These fish are in excel- 
lent condition and weigh in the 1- to 
1.5-pound range." 

They're Willing 
and Waiting 

Centrally located in the common- 
wealth lies the state's best water for 
blue catfish. However, as noted by 
Greenlee, there is more to the story 
than kitty cats. Anglers owe it to 
themselves to come to the mighty 
James and sample numerous other 
fish offerings. D 

Marc N. McGlnde is a writer and photographer 
from Midlothian who enjoys fishing for a variety 
of Virginia's fish species, including tropin/ blue 
cats in the James River. 

"As far as other species go, it is 
possible the James could produce a 
state-record yellow perch, long-nose 
gar, or bowfin," he said. "It's very un- 
likely the James, or any other tidal 
river system, will produce a state- 
record largemouth bass. A 5-pound 
largemouth is big for tidal rivers, and 
the extreme upper end is somewhere 
around 8 pounds." 

In 2000, the Department con- 
ducted an angler and creel survey of 
the tidal James system. There was a 
50-50 split between largemouth bass 
fishing pressure and catfish (blue cat) 
fishing pressure. 

"The James is a regional draw for 
bass tournament anglers," Greenlee 
said, "however, anglers from around 
the country are traveling to Virginia 
to fish for trophy blue cats. Many of 
these anglers are spending vacation 
time and money in and around the 
Richmond and Williamsburg areas, 
paying guides to give them an oppor- 
tunity to catch 50-plus-pound blue 

For More 

• For fisheries information and 
regi-ilations regarding the James 
River, contact the DGIF Region I 
office in Charles City at (804) 829- 
6580. More information can be 
found online at www.HuntFish- 

• Several public boat ramps are 
available for anglers to use. Visit 
the Department's Web site for all 
of your boating access needs. 

• James River regulations: posses- 
sion of one blue catfish 32 inches 
or longer per person, per day. 
There is no limit on harvest of 
blue catfish smaller than 32 inch- 
es from Virginia's ddal rivers. 

• The Virginia Department of 
Health has a consumption advi- 
sory on the James River that 
states no one should consume 
blue catfish 32 inches or longer, 
and no more tlian two meals per 
month for fish less than 32 inches. 

Above: Duck blinds like this one are sure bets for chunky largemouth at the James 
River. Below: Most large-scale bass tournaments at the James River launch from 
Osborne Landing — a top-notch boating facility in Henrico County. 







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APRIL 2009 


Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area 

By Marie Majarov 


tewardship Forest." The 
simple logo on the faded 
signpost at the north en- 
trance to the Department's newest 
Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 
Merrimac Farm, eloquently reflects 
the dreams, pride, and legacy of the 
late owner, renowned Prince William 
County conservation visionary. Ma- 
rine Col. Dean Noyes McDowell. 
Also the spirit of the McDowell chil- 
dren. Prince William Conservation 
Alliance (PWCA), the U.S. Marine 
Corps, and DGIF, all of whom in a 

partnership characterized by initia- 
tive, persistence, and commitment to 
open space conservation made the 
preservation of these 302 magnificent 
acres a reality to be celebrated. 

The property, which features 
wetlands, hardwood forests, and up- 
land meadows that connect the 
Cedar Run wetland bank with the 
forested buffer area of the Marine 
Corps Base at Quantico, forms an im- 
pressive continuous land tract that 
protects sensitive habitats, wildlife, 
and watershed values near the most 
densely populated hub of business 
and development in our common- 

Located in Nokesville, Merrimac 
Farm is the 37th in the Department's 
statewide array of WMAs, now total- 
ing 200,000-plus preserved acres, and 
has the distinction of being the north- 
ernmost property and closest to a 
major urban area. Purchased by Col. 
McDowell in 1959, the original 
records date back to 1737. "Mac," as 
the Colonel was nicknamed, and 
wife Mary built a lovely farmhouse 
for their family, renovated an old 
stone house on the property, estab- 
lished a kennel for the friendly, ener- 
getic Brittanys that were his pride 
and joy, and affectionately named 
their slice of heaven "Merrimac." 




Dean McDowell was very proud when he 
earned his Stewardship Forest sign from 
DOF; the partners have kept it standing 
in his memory. 

Col. McDowell actively man- 
aged his farm for birds, especially 
bobwhite quail, and other wildlife, 
and created a popular, licensed 
shooting preserve for sportsmen. 
Qualifying for his "stewardship" 
sign from the Virginia Department of 
Forestry was momentous to him and 
a step toward his dream of placing 
the property in the hands of the DGIF 
to ensure its permanent conserva- 
tion. But sadly in 2002, without the 
legal provisions in place, his untime- 
ly death made this beautiful parcel a 
highly sought-after target for devel- 

APRIL 2009 

The partners, whose hard work and determination made the preservation of Merrimac 
Farm a reality. Back row left to right: Charlie Grymes, Chairman of the Board PWCA, 
Jerry Sims, Regional Wildlife Manager DGIF; James Hazel, Board of Directors DGIF; Kim 
Hosen, Executive Director PWCA; Colonel Charles A. Dallachie, Commander MCBQ; Bob 
Duncan, Executive Director DGIF; and Chuck Rushing, Director of Facilities MCBQ. Front 
row left to right; Ron Hughes, Wildlife Lands Manager DGIF; Michael Law, Associate 
Counsel, MCBQ; and Paul Stewart, Realty Specialist, Headquarters Marine Corps. 

The Partnership 

Having been well taught the value of 
stewardship by their dad, the Mc- 
Dowell children wanted Merrimac to 
become an enduring legacy for their 
parents, but it looked to be a difficult, 
perhaps unattainable, undertaking. 
With PWCA, a non-profit organiza- 
tion of local conservation-minded cit- 
izens, the DGIF, and representatives 
from the neighboring Marine Corps 
base, they began a tedious 5-year 
process of negotiation and planning. 
An active partnership cieveloped "... 
so committed to a common goal, 
working and struggling together 
even when the going became incredi- 
bly tough and stressful," described 
PWCA executive director Kim 
Hosen, whose role in the process 
everyone agrees was critical, "that it 
was unlike any 1 have participated in 
and can serve as a valuable prototype 
for other conservation projects in 
Prince William County and 
throughout Virginia." 

June 13, 2007, a major mile- 
stone: PWCA was awarded a 
Virginia Land Conservation 
Foundation (VLCF) grant by the 
Virginia Department of Conserva- 
tion and Recreation that was 
matched by DGIF. The Marine Corps 
generously contributed major fund- 
ing via the Department of the Navy's 
Federal Military Encroachment Partner- 
ing Program that works with govern- 

ment entities, conservation organiza- 
tions, and willing landowners to sup- 
port conservation efforts for lands 
that border military installations. 
With all three funding sources in 
place, DGIF was finally able to pur- 
chase the McDowell property. A per- 
manent restrictive easement was es- 
tablished protecting the existing bor- 
ders of the Marine Corps base from 
incompatible development that 
could impact current or future mili- 
tary operations — also protecting the 
McDowell's legacy forever. 

Success! "An outstanding exam- 
ple of the value of partnership ... 

The lovely farmhouse built by Dean and Mary McDowell 

A 1.5-acre pond graces the scenic Merrimac Farm and provides good fishing 

without which it could not have hap- 
pened," asserted Jimmy Hazel, DGIF 
board member actively involved in 
the endeavor. Quantico Base Com- 
mander Colonel Charles Dallachie 
ardently echoed this sentiment, af- 
firming that the Marine Corps looks 
forward to opportunities to partner 
again in the acquisition and conser- 
vation of other properties. 

In Januarv' 2008 the transfer was 
complete. With boundaries marked 


and facilities developed by DGIF 
staff, along with cleanup help con- 
tributed by PWCA, the goal of open- 
ing the property to the public for 
hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, 
and outdoor education was cjuickly 
realized on March 31, 2008. A dedica- 
tion ceremony and celebration recog- 
nizing this unique partnership's 
achievements was held last April 
amid the majestic glow of the proper- 
ty's large stand of Virginia bluebells. 

Habitats and Their 

The propert}''s southern portion in- 
cludes 155 acres of floodplain forests 
and wetlands with frontage on Cedar 
Run: Those acres filter the water 
flowing into the Occoquan Reser\'oir, 
a source of water supply to Northern 
Virginia. Bottomland hardwoods in 
this area include pin oak, green ash, 
black walnut, slippery elm, 
sycamore, sweet gum, and red 
maple, surrounded by dazzling Vir- 
ginia bluebells. Nearby, the old stone 
house is being refurbished by PWCA 
as a welcome /nature center. 

A mature oak-hickory forest 
graces the northern and western 
reaches of Merrimac. This outstand- 
ing upland forest community, along 
witli the bluebells and other spring 
wildflowers, has been designated as 
a Virginia Native Plant Societv' reg- 
istry site. DGIF wildlife biologist 
John Rohm will reside on-site, taking 
on active management of Merrimac's 
splendid habitats. In this regard, re- 
gional wildlife manager Jerry Sims 
proudly describes Merrimac Farm as 
". . .a model for public lands, demon- 
strating that good wildlife manage- 
ment practices can be achieved with- 
in urban and suburban settings." 

Management efforts will begin in 
the central section, where early-suc- 
cession habitat helps support wood- 
cock, songbirds, raptors, wild turkey, 
quail, and rabbits by providing food, 
nesting, and cover for escape, brood- 
ing, loafing, and roosting, according 
to wildlife lands manager Ron Hugh- 
es. This area would be tragically lost 
to changes in vegetation within 20 
years without the rapid and contin- 
ued intervention that is planned. 
Hughes will use prescribed burning 
as a major tool to eliminate fescue 
and encourage the growth of native 
seed stock like blazing star, sneeze- 
weed, coneflowers, goldenrods and 
milkweeds embedded in the rich soil. 
Managing the red cedar to prevent 
overgrowth, and encouraging the 
rich native grasses at Merrimac also 
will be vital. Aspirations include 
restoring the bright red bam for na- 
ture educarion groups. 


Merrimac Farm's early-succession habitat 
provides critical cover, food, and safe 

tiles in the tloodplain, to name a few, 
are all available. 

Multi-species and spring ttirkey 
hunting is by permit only, issued 
through a quota system. Taking bob- 
white quail is banned, however, to 
promote the recovery of tliis severely 
declining species. Fishing, enjoying 
waterfowl, and canoeing possibilities 
at the ponci and Cedar Run are excel- 
lent. Mapping of habitats and detailed 
species lists for the property are being 
prepareci in cooperation with the 
PWCA. To maintain habitat integrity, 
horseback riding, bicycling, using all- 
terrain vehicles, picnicking, and dog 
walking are prohibited. 

PWCA is engageci in establishing 
myriad educational activities. Ms. 
Hosen notes an April 11 Bluebell Festi- 
val, a Christmas bird count (87 species 
recorded last year), a master nattiralist 
chapter, a monitored bluebird-box 
trail, weekend tours, and a series of ex- 

The woodlands of Merrimac erupt in 
color with the arrival of the spring 

Hunting, Fishing, 
and Wildlife Activities 

In all seasons Merrimac Farm radi- 
ates beauty, color, and interesting 
wildlife. The partners take pride in 
planning for different, simultaneous 
activities: Bird watching, nature pho- 
tography, observing butterflies, 
hunting, fishing, trapping, canoeing, 
and studying amphibians and rep- 

APRIL 2009 

Kim Hosen shows a visitor the winter 
scenery near where the bluebells 

citing programs demonstrating that, 
"You cion't have to visit a rainforest or 
huge wilderness area to see cool crit- 
ters. ... amazing animals can be found 
right here in Northern Virginia." One 
of PWCA's most rewarding programs 
based at Merrimac Farm is the Chesa- 
peake Bay Field Study Program, a 
hands-on nature study of local ecosys- 
tems that supports the Virginia Sci- 
ence Standards of Learning. 

DGIF executive director Bob 
Duncan applauds this first acquisi- 
tion of its kind, particularly, "... the 
numerous prospects it offers for out- 
reach in Northern Virginia to encour- 
age awareness and appreciation of 
nature, so important in this day anci 
time." Wildlife manager Sims articu- 
lated it succinctly: "If you like 
wildlife, come to Merrimac Farm." 
Here, a legacy of environmental 
stewardship and wildlife conserva- 
tion has been preserved for Dean and 
Mary McDowell. D 

Marie Majarov and her husband Milan arc 
members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Asso- 
ciation. Living in Winchester, Virginia both are 
Clinical Ps\/chologists as loell as avid nature en- 
thusiasts; they can be readied thru uHimuna- 

For More Information: 

Prince William Conservation Al- 
liance: A 
beautiful, informative Web site cov- 
ering Merrimac, its wildlife. Bluebell 
Festival, and educational activities. 

Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping: Informatic^n 
on the Quota System at Merrimac, 
and opportunities for hunting and 
fishing at the neighboring Marine 
Corps Base, Quantico. 

April is not just 
spring flowers and 

warmer weather. 

To many, it means 

being outdoors and 

talking turkey. 


hat's the appeal of 
spring turkey hunt- 
ing," asked a non- 
hunting relative? "I can buy turkey 
for 49 cents a pound." 

True enough. You can buy do- 
mestic turkey but you have to earn a 
wild turkey and the tougher the ef- 
fort, the greater the satisfaction when 
you're walking from the woods with 
that gobbler slung over your shoul- 

Describing the peak experiences 
to a non-hunter can also be a chal- 

First, sneak into a promising 
hunting area in the pre-dawn and lis- 
ten for a bird to gobble on the roost. 

Then, quietly try to slip in close 
enough to get the turkey's interest 
with a hen call. 

After the bird flies down at day- 
break, it will rarely approach as 
planned, often hanging up unseen 
out of gun range or circling to what- 
ever side will give you the most diffi- 
cult shot. 

You twist your completely cam- 
ouflaged body into something re- 
sembling an offbeat yoga position; 
then, try to hold completely motion- 
less for at least 15 minutes past the 
point where your butt gets numb and 
your arm and shoulder muscles start 
twitching. Your heart pounds in an- 
ticipation. You're practically hyper- 

ventilating, but you resist grabbing a 
big gulp of air because it might create 
discernible movement. Now, ratchet 
up the degree of difficulty with mos- 
quitoes buzzing around your eyes 
and ears, occasionally giving you 
their own tiny needle sticks through 
whatever mesh face mask you're 

This scene often marks the begin- 
ning of the conclusion to a relation- 
ship you started a short while earlier 
with this amorous tom. It heralds the 
desired outcome following hours of 
practicing with the assorted calls you 
carry in your specially-configured 
turkey hunting vest. It shows you've 
learned from mistakes made in previ- 
ous hunts. 

If you can successfully maintain 
complete stealth when a mature tom 
turkey just 15 yards away thunders a 
gobble that shakes needles off the 
pine trees ... if you can maintain 
poise when he appears in full strut, 
his head shining white-blue like a 
100- watt bulb in the early morning 
light ... if you can skillfully adjust 
your body and shotgun in ultra slow 
motion to avoid detection by the 
rewed-up, yet always wary, bird . . . 
well, you just might close the deal. 

Too often, though, the gobbler 
drops out of his puffed-up strut, his 
head color changes white to red in a 
second, and he skedaddles before 

©Tommy Kirkland 


you get a shot. At those moments, 
you rip away your face mask, suck in 
that big breath of air, shake your 
head, and mutter. Something went 
wrong. You'll replay it over in your 
head a hundred times trying to figure 
out what happened. 

Yup, that's spring turkey hunt- 


Ultimate Interaction 

The eastern wild turkey, Melengris 
gallopavo silvestris, is frequently cited 
as one of the most challenging to hunt 
of the various North American sub- 

Gary Norman has more than 20 
years of experience as the Depart- 
ment's turkey biologist. Besides man- 
aging the turkey program, he man- 
ages small game and furbearer 

Norman said Virginia's hunters 
have benefited from turkey popula- 
tion expansion through a very suc- 
cessful restoration program. Most 
areas of the state have decent popula- 
tions of the bird. 

Seasoned turkey experts often 
call them, simultaneously, the 
smartest and the dumbest birds in the 
woods. Someone once said they are 
the only forest creature walking 
around like they're on the verge of a 
nervous breakdown. Benjamin 
Franklin supposedly suggested the 
wild turkey be named our national 
bird; but, of course, the bald eagle 
garnered that honor. 

Norman said he has seen turkeys 
do some things that question their in- 
telligence, but notes their survival 

Spring turkey hunting puts you into the woods at one of the best times of the year, 
with cool, crisp mornings and renewal all around you as blooming redbuds, dog- 
woods, and other trees and shrubs awaken from the grays of winter. 

"In the real world, yelps can h 
imperfect," Chris Parrish said 
**TKc best cailers are the one 
who can make calls that cans 
the hair on the hack of you 
neck to stand up — the one 
who sound like a real turkey, 
he added. 

skills are probably not related to IQ. 
More likely is that they survive due to 
keen senses and a tendency to be sus- 
picious of most things that don't look 

This trait is also why many new- 
comers to the turkey hunting game 
fail miserably — heck, why many ex- 
perts fail miserably. A hunter's first 

few hunting seasons are usually most 
memorable for the countless screw- 

Let's look at a few common mis- 
takes: calling too much or not calling 
enough; making the wrong call at the 
wrong time; calling too softly or call- 
ing too loudly; flushing birds off the 
roost or shutting them up from gob- 
bling by trying to sneak in too close; 
not setting up close enough . . . Seeing 
any patterns here? 

Don't forget hunting unfamiliar 
terrain or not positioning yourself 
where the turkey could most likely be 
induced to travel. Turkey hunting 
snafus are legendary. 

Some gobbler hunting novices 
learn the hard way, punctuated by 
advice they get from watching videos 
or reading, you can learn this way. 

but it's like trying to teach yourself 
how to play guitar. Until you sit 
down and strum alongside someone 
who plays better, you rarely jump to 
the next level. 

Norman, who admits learning 
how to turkey hunt by trial and error, 
recommends finding a mentor. 

"Ask a successful hunter if you 
can tag along and watch and listen to 
what happens. Every bird and every 
hunt are different; there are no hard 
and fast rules for success. Patience is 
the key," Norman said. 

Another option is to hire a guide 
and pick that person's brain at every 
opportunity. One axiom you're likely 
to hear over and over is that patience 
kills more turkeys than anything else. 

"I hear soooo many hunters com- 
plain that birds gobble on the roost, 
fly down and, then, nothing," Nor- 
man explained. "The key to success 
here is to be patient. More than likely, 
that gobbler is with hens and you'll 
be lucky to call him away from them 
or even catch up to them. However, a 
lot of hens leave tlie gobbler at mid- 
morning to lay eggs and gob- 
bling often picks up. So take a 
nap, explore or whatever, 
and wait for 9 a.m. Birds 
that are gobbling at mid- 
morning are the best 
birds to hunt. Chances 
are they're alone and 
easier to call," 
he added. 

Let's Talk Turkey 

The most successful hunters are bird- 
brains — in the best sense. They have 
enough experience to get inside the 
turkey's head and understand its 
motivations. They also have the skills 
to then influence its behavior. 

One of the most intriguing and 
enjoyable aspects of spring turkey 

hunting is actually carrying on a dia- 
logue with the gobbler. Knowing 
when and how to call can be critical 
in at least bringing the bird into gun 
range. From there, your set-up and 
stealth become paramount. 

Missourian Chris Parrish domi- 
nated national turkey calling compe- 
titions for several years, but even 
though he could make all the re- 

(coiifiniicd oil pg. 16) 

Uirfiinia Turkey Trends 

The "Turkey Status Report" compiLed by the DGIF details population estimates and 
trends among northeastern states, Virginia regions and counties. Despite some fluc- 
tuations, often due to weather and food conditions affecting breeding success and 
poult survival, Virginia's overall wild turkey situation is largely stable. According to 
the report, Virginia's turkey population was estimated to be approximately 150,000 
birds in the spring of 2008, based on the assumption that 10 percent of the popula- 
tion is harvested in the spring gobbler season. Based on spring gobbler harvest re- 
ports, turkey populations in Virginia appeared to peak in 2002 and, then, stabilize. 

Gary Norman, the Department's turkey program manager, said he has seen a 
number of positives over the past decade, including the expansion of fall hunting 
seasons into counties that previously did not have fall seasons, the addition of spe- 
cial youth hunting opportunities during the fall and spring gobbler seasons, and im- 
provement in overall population levels after adjusting the fall season from 9 to 6 

The fall season was adjusted after data showed many hens were being taken in- 
cidental to late season deer hunting. Preserving additional hens helped offset nega- 
tive impacts on nesting success in the spring. 

Norman also sees challenges in sustaining interest in fall turkey hunting, espe- 
cially as deer seasons expand with the increased use of muzzleloaders and crossbows. 

He also cites challenges with maintaining turkey brood habitat on national for- 
est areas and the issue of habitat loss due to development and subdivision of large 
tracts of land. 

"The George Washington National Forest is currently revising its land manage- 
ment plan and management of forest clearings for turkey broods, and timber man- 
agement in general for food, brood habitat, etcetera," he said. 

He encourages turkey hunters to contact national forest managers and ask them 
to support turkey management efforts. 











Getting a gobbler to sound off to the coaxings of his friction call is just part of the thrill for avid hunter and 
Alabama native Harlan Starr, a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation's board of directors. 

©Ken Perrotte 

Calling TIPS 

Past National Grand Champion turkey caller Chris Parrish offers these calling 
and set-up tips. 

• When yelping with a mouth calL, drop your lower jaw just as a real turkey does. 
To a gobbler, it'll sound like a much more motivated hen. 

• When a gobbler is heading away from you with an old hen, mock the old hen, 
irritate her, get her to come looking for you. She'll usually troll that gobbler 
behind her. 

• Don't use hen cackles in the spring. Hens usually cackle in the fall. 

• When you hear or Locate a turkey, take time to scan the area, if possible. How 
and where you set up on a gobbler can make a big difference on whether he 
comes to your call or not. Make it easy for him; get as close to him as you can 
before you set up. 

Rhythm is the most important part of calling. Each turkey's voice is different, 
so learn to mimic the rhythm of each. 

• Spend time in the woods, or purchase a CD with live turkeys on it. Turkeys are 
your best teachers. 

• Get comfortable with your calls. No matter what types of calls you choose, be 
confident with your ability to use them. This includes locater calls, such as 
crow and owl calls. 

• Once a gobbler is excited and gobbling, try going totally silent. The bird might 
hang up, but often he'll be there within three to five minutes. If the turkey 
hangs up more than 60 yards out where it can't see you, with minimal move- 
ment, softly rake the leaves at your side to mimic the sound of birds searching 
for food. I c 


Preparation Tips 

Turkey hunting, like many outdoor pur- 
suits, gets more specialized each year. 
You can spend an incredible amount of 
money on calls, clothing, special vests, 
guns, and ammo. You can even buy 
shotguns specially designed for turkey 

Setting up a favorite wing-shoot- 
ing gun for turkey hunting, though, can 
be simple and cost a fraction of what 
buying a separate "turkey gun" will 

Invest a little extra time identify- 
ing what combination of tight choke, 
shot, and sights delivers the best shot 
pattern. It can mean the difference be- 
tween being just a well-equipped 
hunter or a well-equipped successful 

Retired Army Col. Bruce EUiott, for- 
mer Fredericksburg, resident and con- 
summate turkey hunter, explained, 
"The key when turkey hunting, unlike 
pointing a bird or waterfowl gun, is 
that you're aiming and shooting more 
like you would a rifle. You absolutely 
need the point of aim and point of im- 
pact to be the same. 

"Look for pattern density and pat- 
tern uniformity. There shouldn't be any 
holes in the shot pattern. Finding the 
best combination of shotshells and 
choke tube for turkey hunting is just 
like shooting a rifle — you have to find 
out what your gun likes the best. Each 
gun has its own personahty," he said. 

To help with accurate aiming, try 
adding removable sites, such as Truglo 
Magnum Gobbler Dots to the rib on the 
barrel ofyour shotgun. Some of the new 
red-dot aiming sights, such as the Bur- 
ris Speed Bead, are expensive, but 
they'll almost ensure the pellets will hit 
whatever the dot is covering. 

"If you're not absolutely sure of 
your gun's aim, just being off an inch or 
two at short ranges will cause you to 
miss with today's loads and tight 
chokes," Elliott said. The pattern just 
doesn't have the distance to open up. 

Ken Perrotte relishes a hard-won early spring torn from the comforts of his front 
porch. Each time out is a learning experience when it comes to turkey hunting, and 
the misses and mistakes make the successes all the sweeter. 

quired calls with virtuoso skill, he 
said imperfection carries the day dur- 
ing hunting. 

That's a good thing because few 
hunters are perfect callers. 

"Uh, oh, hear that? If you'd done 
that in a contest, you could write 
your ticket home," he said, pausing a 
video after one female caller issued a 
scratchy yelp. "She made a big mis- 

The audience chuckled because 
the female on tape was an actual hen 
turkey filmed as she wandered 
through the woods. Parrish was 
showing footage of real turkeys talk- 
ing in natural settings in an attempt 
to show that the successful turkey 
hunter doesn't have to be nearly as 
perfect as the competition turkey 

"In the real world, yelps can be 
imperfect," he said. "The best callers 
are the ones who can make calls that 
cause the hair on the back of your 
neck to stand up — the ones who 
sound like a real turkey," he added. 

Parrish slipped the call into his 
mouth and demonstrated a yelp that 
had some intentional nuances in it 
that human judges would consider 

"I've never had a gobbler score 
me low on that call. We need to listen 
more to the hens and not worry 
about the gobblers," he said. 

Although waterfowl hunting 
and even deer hunting — to an ex- 
tent — employ calling, Norman said 
nothing compares to striking up a di- 
alogue with a gobbler. 

'Tt's terribly exciting, almost ad- 
dictive," he declared. "The adrena- 
line rushes and your heart rate peaks 
when everything is right and a big 
tom comes gobbling into your set- 
up. I've hunted about every critter in 
the regulation book and there are 
none, none, as exciting as a spring 
gobbler." D 

Ken Perrotte is a King George Comity resi- 
dent and the outdoors columnist for the 
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star neivspiaper. 


Writer, educator, and 

culinary adventurer 

Vickie Shufer advocates 

for the wild foods 


By Beth Hester 

The simple, astonishing splendor 
of the redbud tree in full bloom 
is one of the loveliest harbingers 
of springtime in Virginia. The casual 
spectator, admiring the color-burst, 
may be unaware that the pinkish-vi- 
olet, or fuchsia blooms provide nec- 
tar for bees and butterflies, and that 
the seeds offer forage for birds. Na- 
tive and medicinal plant expert Vick- 
ie Shufer sees all of these characteris- 
tics and more. Vickie explained, "Did 
you know that the flowers of the red- 
bud are edible? They have a tangy 
flavor, are full of vitamin C, and are 
great when added to salads and 
omelets. Slightly later in the year, the 
tender, flat pods resemble small 
snow peas, and are delicious when 

Redbud seed pods (Cercis canadensis) 

False Solomon's seal 
(Smilacina racemosa 

Whether bud, blossom, seed or 
leaf, native plants hold four-season 
interest for Vickie, who since 1979 has 
lived in Virginia Beach, designing 
and conducting nature programs 
and working as a consultant to vari- 
ous state and local environmental 
agencies. A Kentucky native, Vickie 
holds a B.S. Degree in Outdoor Recre- 
ation from the University of 
Louisville, is a certified outdoor in- 
structor for the Department, and has 
completed advanced training cours- 
es in the areas of field ethno-botany 
and medical botany. A Renaissance 
woman, she co-authors guides to Vir- 
ginia's rivers and coastal waterways, 
leads wilderness survival programs 
for all age groups, and facilitates 
weekend interpretive programs ex- 
ploring maritime forests and marsh- 
es. She also publishes the quarterly 
newsletter. The Wild Foods Forum. 

In her 'test kitchen' Vickie in- 
vents recipes using the wild foods 
she harvests; when her pantry gets 
full, she hosts wild foods dinner par- 
ties. She's an enthusiastic and con- 
genial guide, presenting native 
plants in all of their multi-dimension- 
al wonder, sharing how they can be 
used to nourish, heal, and in addi- 
tion, aid survival when the unexpect- 
ed occurs. 

In mid-winter 2008, I inter- 
viewed Vickie at her home near the 
Pocaty River. As morning sunlight 
filtered into her kitchen, she poured 
me a mug of home-brewed Yaupon- 
Chai tea and gave me a tour of the 
wild foods stored in paper sacks, bas- 
kets, and in a collection of jars on her 
windowsill. In the afternoon, we 
talked as we hiked through the 16- 
acre tract in Gibbs Woods, where she 
has started a native nursery and 
botanical sanctuary. 

What led you to become inter- 
ested in studying wild, native 
plants? Did anything in your back- 
ground drive your sense of voca- 

I grew up) in rural Kentucky, on a to- 
bacco farm, douni near the Mammoth 
Caves area. It was about as 'country' an 
existence as you could possibly imagine, 
and our living coiuiitions were primitive 
in the extreme. We loere a large family, -§ 
atid ten of us lived in a four-room liouse, @ 


♦ w^AAA/ 


Vickie Shufer (I) invents recipes using 
wild foods collected both at home and 
on her journeys across Virginia. 

cvith a woodstove, and no running water. 
1 zoas always running around outside, ex- 
ploring my surroundijigs, ofte)i takifig a 
book into the woods where I could be alone 
and read. Native foods were part of that 
whole experience. I roiieinber discover- 
ing persifinnons, wild grapes, and wal- 
nuts, all therefor the gathering. 

I remember tliinking how wonderful 
that was. Suice I teach outdoor survival 
skills, I'm often asked if I go into the 
wilderness deliberately to practice sur- 
vival ... I tell them I don't have to ... 1 prac- 
ticed surviving for the first 18 years of my 

How do those early experiences, 
combined with your extensive edu- 
cational background inform your 
approach to teaching others about 
the value of wild and native plants? 

/ beghi by encouraging studeiits to 
appreciate the beauty of the natural 
world, and I like to stress that it's impor- 

tant to begin the process by learning to 
identify the plants that groiv right out- 
side the front door. Knoioing that a good 
mam/ of these p>lants can be used for food 
or medicine, and appreciating how set- 
tlers and native peoples used them, deep- 
ens the experience. I also accommodate 
different learning styles. I try to appeal to 
the taste buds by demonstrating how to 
incorporate wild foods into everyday 

As I've traveled around Virguiia fa- 
cilitating various programs, it has be- 
come evident to me just how hungry peo- 
ple are for information about the natural 
world, and interest is growing. Some peo- 
ple may think that exploring native 
plants or sources of wild food is a niche 
hobby, or is peripheral to their lives, but I 
can tell them about the five-year-old girl 
who survived a week in the wilderness 
after her grandfather died from a heart at- 
tack during a fishing trip. Whether 
through instinct, or semi-formal instruc- 
tion, she knexo ho'w to identifxj soniething 
edible. Wlien they found her, she ivas a lit- 
tle dehydrated, and was grasping afistfid 
of raspberries. She lived to tell the tale. 

The unexpected is alzoays a possibili- 
ty: boy or girl scouts can get separated 
from the group. Hunters and a)iglers can 
take a wrong turn, or encounter a bout of 
extreme iveather. I know that in some 
parts of the Dismal Sivamp, compasses 
don't work very well, and folks can get 
lost. Knoioing what is safe to eat can liter- 
ally mean the difference between life and 

Could you talk a bit about some 
wild and native plants that might be 
of interest to readers of this maga- 

Several come to unnd. The native, 
yelkrw thistle for example. It's covnnon in 

(co)itiiuicd oil pg. 21) 

Yellow ttiistle (Cirsium horridulum) 

APRIL 2009 

Persininjon Cake \^ 

1 box vanilb cake mix 

2 aip5 persimraon pdlp _ 
. 17 f capb(JttejionM2il 

- II H cap_maple5yMp 

Mix ingredients. -Pour into baking dish and bake 
ot 350T for 30-35 niincites. 

Persimmon Icing 

1 box voniia icingraix 

_i3_oz package cream cheese 


Blend ingredients until smooth Spread over cooled cake. 

^'oandCherrySoka f 

Several species of ^ 

Remove chernesft^ Ik — ~ 





Acorn Griddle Cakes ^ 

J. ccip acorn meal (make^sare acorQS_are matureoicL 

_.harvest:ceady) : 

Jjscip pancake mi,>? 

Ji2 cup yogurt 

_2±h5p, meltedbutteri_ 
i/f cup water 
J tbsp, maple syrup __ 

-Mix ingredients thoroughly. Drop batter by spoonfuls 
onto hot oiled griddle or frying pan. Fry on both sides_ 
till golden browa _ 

Above: Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) 
Below: Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) 

V^ickie's Foraging Tips 

Avoid foraging in areas scich as parks or wildlife refciges. 
Some plant species ore rare, on are protected, Consult 
With on-site staff first 

Before transplanting, establish that the plant in question 
Will be non-invasive in yocir area 

Never harvest or eat plants from fields that have been 
recently sprayed with pesticides. 

Ingest only those plants, nuts, and fruit that yoQ can 
positively identify. 

lake only what you need: leave some plants to re-seed; 
leave some for wildlife, and also for other foragers. 

/Reduce waste by properly storing wild foods and medicinal 


Teach children to identify poison ivy and other causes of 




the spiring, and many pieople take the 
pliant for granted, or they consider it 
trash. But if you like celery, cut the thistle 
ojfat the base before the plant blooms, and 
before the first flower bud opens; peel the 
stalk, and you II never want to buy celer\j 
from the store again. The thistle stalk is 
juicier, and sweeter False Solomon's seal, 
the berries of which the indigenous peopile 
gave to the settlers to ward off scurvy, is 
noteworthy. Crab applies are high in 
piectin, so it's easy to make a jelly from 

szveetgum, and tulip piopHar; the back half 
is an older, more mature area with oak, 
hickory, and beech trees piredominathig. 
My ultimate goal is to pnopmgate wild, 
native pHants, make them available topieo- 
ptle, and conduct educational tours and 
programs on the pnopierty when perma- 
nent trails are established. 

The property has been through some 
pretty heavy-duty changes, but those 
changes are instructive. First hurricane 
Isabel came along, bringing down lots of 
trees and generating debris on the forest 

A grinding stone is useful for mashing 
acorns and other nuts. 

Acorns from the live oak are incredi- 
bly good. They don't have an uwrdinate 
amount of tannin in them, ami therefore 
can be used in the late autumn when tlmj 
are mature. I shell them and griiui them 
up either in the bleiuier or on the grinding 
stone that was found on the property. I 
make griddlecakes from the resulting 

Lastly, 1 would encourage Virgini- 
ans to be mindfid of the native hazelnuts 
so common in our piedmont region. 
They're abwidant if you get to them be- 
fore the critters do, and they are more fla- 
vor fd than the impiorted nuts with which 
we're so familiar. 

You have recently started Wild 
Woods Farm, a 16-acre native nurs- 
ery. What plants can be found there, 
and what plans do you have for the 
farm going forward? 

Fm excited about the educational 
possibilities this land will be able to ofr'er 
as it develops. The front half of the pnopier- 
ty is mostly loblolly pine, red maple. 

Top: Ground cherry (Physalis pruinosa) 
Above: Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) 

floor Six weeks later, a fire szoept through, 
burnhig off a lot of the rubble and helpnng 
to make the soil a rich, fertile ground 
where seeds could germinate. As a result 
of these events, there is a greater diversity 
of plant life. Shrubs, ferns, and wildflow- 
ers are thriving due to the increased su)i- 

light 0)1 the forest floor Some of my fa- 
vorite plants are the Indian cucumber 
root, dzoarf trillium, trout lily, heart leaf 
ginger, and pmrtridge berry. 

Wlien young and tender, the trailing 
wild bean can be cooked up and served 
just like regular green beans. 

What counsel do you have for 
people who want to begin to explore 
wild foods and incorporate them 
into their meals? 

You don't need a ton of expiensive 
gadgets to get started. I use an old-school 
food mill to pirocess pnrsimmons, graphs 
ami berries ... anything with a pndp. A 
good quality food dehydrator is a boon hi 
our humid environment, and it's espiecial- 
ly iisefid for fruits, aiid for those pAants 
like the Salicornia, or salt plants that tend 
to retain moisture. Finally I use a steam 
juice extractor. It takes out the seeds which 
can impiart a bitter, woody taste to juice. 

I want to encourage people to explore 
the hidden treasures of our natural areas. 
Reading the landscape as the seasons 
change sharpens observational skills. 
Wlien folks begin to focus on the plants 
that grow wild, something else hapipvns ... 
they also begin to notice the animal tracks 
and other signs of wildlife that exist near- 
by. For me, it's extremely gratif/ing to 
pAay a role in encouraging pieopule of all 
ages to engage with nature on a more inti- 
mate level, n 

Beth Hester is a writer and freelance photog- 
rapiher. Wlien not hunched over her lapitop, 
she pursues other pmssions: reading, slwot- 
ing, kayaking, fishing, tyi)ig saltxoater flics, 
and tending her herb garden. She lives in 

Additional Resources 

-f The Virginia Native Plant Society 
- State Office: VNPS, 400 Blandy 
Farm Lane, Unit #2, Boyce, Vir- 
ginia 22620. 

•f The Wild Foods Forum newsletter - 
P. O. Box 61413, Virginia Beach, 
Virginia 23466-1413 

■♦• - Vickie 
Shufer's Web site, which contains 
a schedule of educational oppor- 
tunities, a bibliography, thumb- 
nail photographs, and mini-biog- 
raphies of edible and medicinal 

APRIL 2009 






? :-#Mr^ 


Creating habitat is 

more than just 

hanging bird feeders. 

By Carol A. Reiser 

ur connection to nature 
runs deep. Famed biologist 
E. O. Wilson calls this con- 
nection "biophilia," or "the innate 
tendency to focus on life and lifelike 
processes." When we sit on a bench in 
a garden surrounded by greenery, 
bask in the sun and watch butterflies 
float gently among flowers, we un- 
consciously feel a certain kinship that 
calms and restores us. We're 'hard- 
wirecl' to respond this way. 

"To the extent that each person 
can feel like a naturalist," Wilson sug- 

This homeowner has done an excellent job of 
replacing a large portion of lawn with ground- 
covers, shrubs, and perennials that support a 
diversity of birds, insects, and other wildlife. 

Be creative in your use of garden elements 
tucked among groupings of native plants. 
This small, recirculating jug of water pro- 
iu vides a quick sip for songbirds. 


gests, "the old excitement of the un- 
trammeled world will be regained." 

Yet, in so much of the modern en- 
vironment, we have managed to 
overlook that fundamental connec- 
tion and have replaced our natural 
surroundings with artificial — some 
would say sterile — landscapes. We 
either clear, pave over, replant witli 
exotic looking non-native species, or 
otherwise diminish the ecological 
value of outdoor spaces. 

At the same time, we have 
pushed aside or permanently re- 
moved many of the native plant and 
animal communities that useci to 
thrive on the land. Woodlands, 
meadows, and wetlands are often re- 
duced to small patches or remnants 
after the primary development foot- 
print is carved out. Wildlife is left 
with a woodlot here, a muddy pud- 
dle there, and acres and acres of lawn. 


Look for verticat spaces to improve habitat. 
If you don't have room for a vine over a 
fence, use a trellis instead, and plant a 
native species lil<e this trumpet honeysucl<le, 
which attracts hummingbirds. 


Habitat at Home 

How do we recapture our connection 
with natvire, improve the landscape 
for wildlife, and restore — if only in 
part — some microcosm of the natural 
ecosystems we've lost? The answer is 
surprisingly simple: If you're going 
to build, minimize the amount of 
vegetation and water sources re- 
moved; if it's already built, plant 
more habitat and add water features. 
Habitat in the places where we 
live can take the form of a small 
flower garden in a side yard dotteci 
with shrubs, a collection of potted na- 
tive plants on a balcony, or a half-acre 
drainfield planted with perennials 
and grasses. Habitats can be big or 
small, depending on your site and 
your budget. 

A habitat at home is an oosis of many 
different plant types that can serve mul- 
tiple functions. Above: The homeowner 
installed a green roof over the porch and 
completely replaced all turfgrass — what 
a contrast to the neighbors! Left: Tight 
spaces on a slope are filled with flower- 
ing plants that hold the soil and require 
little maintenance. 

Install a small water feature in the ground, and who knows what will show up? The above is 
only a 3' X 5' insert, but salamanders still found the little pool and laid these egg masses. 
Frogs, dragonflies, and other critters will also delight; they'll eat mosquito larvae, too. 

APRIL 2009 


Schoolyard Habitat 

Habitat improvement projects can 
provide essential, nature-based 
amenities at schools, too, where chil- 
dren spend a large portion of their 
formative years. In Richard Louv's 
landmark book. Last Child in the 
V^oods: Saving Our Children from Na- 
ture-Deficit Disorder, he describes a 
panoply of childhood ills that can in 
part be explained by our apparent 
alienation from nature. Louv writes 
the following about this disconnect: 

Our society is teaching young people 
to avoid direct experience in nature. That 
lesson is delivered in schools, families, 
even organizations devoted to the out- 
doors, and codified into the legal and reg- 
ulatory structures of many of our com- 
munities. Our institutions, urban/sub- 
urban design, and cultural attitudes un- 
consciously associate nature with 
doom— while disassociating the outdoors 
from joy and solitude . . . But as the young 
spend less and less of their lives in natural 
surroundings, their senses narrow, phys- 
iologically and psychologically, and this 
reduces the richness of human experi- 

Since a child's relationship with 
and connection to nature are shaped 
largely by early, positive experiences 
in the outdoors, we can provide these 
cc^nnections quite effectively on a 
daily basis by establishing and main- 
taining habitat gardens in local 

Corporate Habitat 

For most people, when we're not at 
home we're usually. . . at work. Does 
your place of employment have an 
open space near the employee en- 
trance, or a large empty lawn, or per- 
haps a small outdoor area that might 
be used when folks are on a break? 
The work place can be a great site to 
install a wildlife habitat. 

An extensive tiabitat blankets a large portion of ttie sctioolyard at Daniel's Run Elementary in 
Fairfax. The habitat's proximity to play areas makes it an ideal place for students to explore 
and interact with nature. Teachers use these gardens to teach Standards of Learning. 

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. in Gainesville is an exemplary model of corporate habitat 
success. The green roof seen here captures and treats rainwater, which significantly reduces 
the amount of runoff entering nearby creeks. The site also boasts a bioretention swale and 
permeable paving, all designed to get water back into the ground. 

Let Habitat Partners' Certify Your Site 

whether your habitat project is large or small, you 
can show your support of Virginia's wildlife by ap- 
plying for a free Habitat Partners" certificate from 
the Department ( /habi- 
tat). The certificate is available for residences, 
businesses, or schools. Once your site becomes 
certified, you may then apply for a free Habitat 
Partners"' sign to display on a fence post, en- 
tranceway, or other prominent location for visi- 
tors and passers-by to see. 

certified Wildlife Habitat 



The application is an outline that 
helps describe important habitat fea- 
tures you've improved, such as na- 
tive plants that were installed to re- 
place non-native ones; water features 
placed in the ground to supplement 
bird baths; and protective cover pro- 
vided in the form of additional 
shrubs, brush piles, or nest boxes. 

When is a "Habitat" 
Not a Habitat? 

Notice that in all our descriptions of 
wildlife habitat we have greatly 
downplayed the presence of feeders. 
Having 10 feeders and a bird bath in 
the middle of a sea of lawn is not a 
habitat. True, a "feeding station" is a 
great way to bring birds and small 

Instead, install a couple of water 
features and surround them with 
groundcovers, flowers, shrubs, and 
small trees. Add a fallen log or brush 
pile and a nest box or two. 

And remember, too, to make 
time to immerse yourself, as often as 
possible, in the beauty of a habitat 
garden. Naturalist John Muir once 
wrote, "Thousands of tired, nerve- 
shaken, over-civilized people are be- 
ginning to find out . . . that wildness is 
a necessity." We can reconnect with 
the outdoors starting in our own 
backyards, where touching nature 
close to home "makes all the world 
kin." D 

Carol A. Heiser is a wildlife habitat education 
coordinator at the Virginia Department of Game 
and Inland Fisheries. 

A rain garden is a great way to break up the 
monotony of a large lawn and improve water 
quality at the same time. Here at the Product 
Development Office of Wyeth Consumer 
Health Care in Richmond, the garden was 
installed with pathways and an inviting 
bench. Employees at Wyeth volunteer their 
time on a wildlife habitat committee. 

mammals closer to windows for us to 
see and appreciate; but the best habi- 
tats are those which have water 
sources available to a variety of 
wildlife species and an abundance of 
natural food sources like berries, 
seeds, and nectar from a diversity of 
plant types. Feeders are only inciden- 
tal to the habitat equation. 

APRIL 2009 

Volunteers install a wetland buffer around 
the edges of a stormwater retention pond 
Union Bank Shares in Caroline County. 


Digging Deeper 


Bn'nging Nature Home: How Native Plants 
Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, by Dou- 
glas W. TaUamy; 2007, Timber Press, OR. 

Natural Landscaping: Gardening with 
Nature to Create a Backyard Paradise, by 
SaLly Roth; 1997, Rodale Press, PA. 

Tfie Natural Habitat Garden, by Ken 
Druse; 2004, Timber Press, OR. 

Gardening with Nature, by James van 
Sweden; 2003, Watson-Guptill Publica- 
tions, NY& Grayson Publishing, DC. 

Designing Outdoor Environments for 
Children: Landscaping Schoolyards, 
Gardens and Playgrounds, by Lolly Tai 
etaL;2006, McGraw-Hill, NY. 

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our 
Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by 
Richard Louv; 2005, Algonquin Books of 
Chapel Hill, NC. 

Schoolyard Habitats: A How-To Guide, 
2001, National Wildlife Federation, 
Reston, VA. 

Web sites 

• Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and 
Conservation Landscaping, Chesapeake 
Bay Watershed, U. S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (84-page booklet with color 
photos of recommended plants): 

• Better Backyard: A Citizens' Resource 
Guide to Beneficial Landscaping and 
Habitat Restoration in the Chesapeake 
Bay Watershed (61-page booklet): 

• Habitat Partners® Web pages of the VA 
Department of Game and Inland Fish- 

Habitat at Home® 
DVD Available 

The Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries has produced a new 
DVD that illustrates several types of 
home habitat gardens. For a copy of 
the DVD ($12), visit our online store 
at or call 
(804) 367-2569 after April 15th. 


Scouting ^ 

essay and photos by Gail Brown 

ne hundred 
years is a 
long time to 
keep a promise; yet, 
this year at Blue 
and Gold dinners 
and candlelit cer- 
emonies across 
the common- 
wealth, Virginia's 
scouts will cele- 
brate the Boy Scouts 
of America's first cen- 
tury of promises kept and 
good deeds accomplished. By 2012 
the Girl Scouts of America will reach 
the same milestone — 100 years of 
working to improve the lives of oth- 

While scouting always plays an 
iniportant role in our communities, 
the standard for civic involvement 
reached an incredible height in 
Woodstock, Virginia, when, in 2007, 

Central High School (CHS) graduat- 
ed ten Eagle Scouts — an amazing sta- 
tistic even for Virginia Naturally 
schools with much larger popula- 

What does this level of involve- 
ment mean to this Shenandoali Val- 
ley community? An eagle-eye view 
of their individual and collective ef- 
forts reveals the impact their dedica- 
tion to service continues to have on 
the neighbors. As former scout leader 
and CHS science teacher Chris 
Kaznosky stated, "We have several 
troops represented at Central High. 
Typically, our scout troops work to- 
gether to get projects going; it would 
be unusual for scouts or troops to 
work alone ... these Eagle Scouts, 
many of whom entered kindergarten 
together, were no exception." 

"Scouting makes boys aware of 
the outdoors, and, in turn, they de- 
velop a love of it," stated Lisa Currie, 

parent, scout leader, and Shenan- 
doah County School Board member. 
DGIF wildlife education coordi- 
nator, girl scout leader, and mother of 
an Eagle and a Gold Award Scout, 
Suzie Gilley concurs: "Scouting 
teaches an appreciation of the out- 
doors. Troops participate in a variety 
of environmental service projects 
each year. They are our future conser- 
vation leaders." 

Matt Perry and friends in Troop 700 
worked to improve this ball field. 


Girl scouts, Troop 1172, wrote letters os kindergartners to support Poquoson's 
efforts to build Oxford Run Trail; they planted and maintained their school's 


Virginia . 

l^flf'y Schools 


Projects completed by the scouts 
from Troop 88 and Troop 575 that led 
to Eagle Scout status include: in- 
stalling a shed, fencing, landscaping 
and playgrounds at area churches; 
organizing and moving a library; as- 
sisting a library in securing Internet 
services; constructing a privacy fence 
around a women's abuse shelter; and 
building and landscaping an educa- 
tional outdoor courtyard at CHS. 

ments. Closing the gap between the 
blue waters of Hawaii and the green 
hills of Appalachia would take con- 
siderable money, but challenges did 
not deter these young women. Senior 
year saw busy days disappear faster 
than thin mints at a campout as the 
scouts did what scouts do best: set 
goals and work hard. 

"They must have made and sold 
over 8,000 peanut butter balls," said 

Students at Hanover County's Elmont Elementary continue to benefit from the 
projects these scouts completed on school grounds. 

One scout constructed stone pillars 
for Shenantioah County Park in 
Maurertown, Virginia. 

Across the state, in the equally 
stunning Appalachian Valley, recent 
St. Paul High School graduate Desti- 
nee Blevins (Troop 400) became the 
first woman in her service unit to re- 
ceive the coveted Gold Award since 
1977. Her project: raise the funds and 
do the work needed to refurbish a 
bunkhouse in an area church. Desti- 
nee found scouting helped fill a need 
to contribute to her community and 
helped her decide her career path of 

Joined by two friends, the trio — 
scouts together throughout their 
school careers — decided a gradua- 
tion trip to Hawaii would be a fitting 
adventure to celebrate past achieve- 

APRIL 2009 

For his Eagle Scout project, Ryan 
Puryear and fellow scouts in Troop 793 
built this outdoor classroom for Elmont 
Elementary School. 

Scouting provides opportunities for 
leadership skills to develop. 

Destinee's mom. "The girls never 
quit. I think scouting teaches girls life 
skills." And yes, the water was great. 
By celebrating decades of suc- 
cess, we realize that the next hundred 
years will see scouts become the fu- 
ture leaciers that our communities re- 
quire. We promise. D 

Gail Brown is a retired principal for Chesterfield 
Connti/ Public Schools. Slie is a lifelong learner 
a)id educator, and her teaching and 
administrative experioices hi 
grades K-12 have taught 
her that project-based en- 
ciroivuental programs 
teach science stan- 
dards, promote core 
values, and provide 
exciting educational 
experiences for the 
entire connuuniti/. 

Retired Chief of Police Charlie Lawhorne oversees the annual kids fishing day he 
spawned in Grottoes. 


pond, Chief Charlie conceived of the 
idea for a kids fishing day. With $200 
for prizes, the event was off and run- 
ning 14 years ago. At last year's May 
3rd event. Grottoes Mayor Joe Morris 
presented Chief Charlie with a 
plaque honoring his many years of 
service championing the event. 

At the Mountain View Town 
Park, the first Saturday each May is 
known as Chief Charlie's Kids Fish- 
ing Day. Chief Charlie, the current 

''Give a man a fish; 
you have fed him for 
today. Teach a man to 
fish and you have fed 
him for a lifetime!' 

Author unknown 

essay and photos 

^r he town of Grottoes, Vir- 
^ ginia, annually carries out 
^r this adage as it honors re- 

tired Chief of Police Charlie 
Lawhorne, AKA "Chief Charlie," for 
his energy and dedication to the kids 
fishing day festivities. 

According to Chief Charlie, the 
town purchased a 54-acre cattle farm 
in the event of a need to expand their 
sewage treatment plant. After clear- 
ing the land and finding lots of flat 
area for various activities and a dry 

chief of police, John Painter, uni- 
formed town deputies, a 'posse' of 
volunteers, and staff from the De- 
partment (DGIF), along with hordes 
of anxious children and their parents, 
amass at the town park for another 
annual kids fishing competition 
sponsored by local businesses. 

DGIF conservation police officer 
E. W. Hemdon reported that the Fish- 
eries Division stocked about 1,000 
trout in the pond to feed the vora- 
cious appetites of the young and 
want-to-be anglers. Coursey Springs 
trout hatchery manager Eric Wood- 
ing brought an extra stocking supply 
of trout early Saturday morning so 
that the kids could see the fish being 





introduced. One of the highlights of 
the day for a lot of the kids and for 
some of the parents, too, was seeing 
the stocking. 

An estimated 300 contenders, 
with a parent or guardian in tow, 
lined up very early behind the yellow 
and black "Do Not Cross" police line 
and awaited Chief Painter's word to 
move to the bank. Once the competi- 
tion began, he admonished parents to 
only help to cast and remove the 

catch. The competition divisions in- 
cluded ages nine and under from 9:00 
to 11:00 a.m.; from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 
p.m., ages 10-15 held forth. Folks at 
the 'check-in' station measured the 
catch and determined all winners by 
2:00 p.m. 

In the youngsters contest, dou- 
ble-winner Devin Deane, age eight, 
led with the first trout and the longest 
at 13.5". Malachi Lucas, age five, 
reeled in the largest catch of 6" in this 

age division, while Haven Reed, age 
three, snagged the smallest. 

In the 10-15 division, again a 
double winner was Dylan Casto with 
a 6" smallest and a 13.5" trout as the 
largest catch of die day. 

John and Karena Moats like to 
fish a lot, but say they did not reel in 
any in 2008. Jacob Lilly has been fish- 
ing for only 1 Vi months; he likes boat 
landings and his grandfather's prop- 
erty as fishing venues. 

Because of limited attention 
spans, other educational activities 
were provided: a petting zoo (which 
had a mother miniature goat and 
three babies no taller than six inches, 
a fawn, and sheep) manned by a 
scout troop from Bridgewater; a 
town fire truck; and a 'fly-in' of a 


medical helicopter. A horse-drawn, 
covered wagon and the Grottoes po- 
lice 'troop' truck provided rides 
around the scenic grounds. 

Chief Charlie's Kids Fishing Day 
is a time to engage in recreational and 
educational activities, partake of the 
food, and then go home energized. 
The town whole-heartedly supports 
the idea for a day of wholesome en- 
tertaimnent for its citizens by donat- 
ing canned com for bait, door prizes, 
and food. The police department 
provides loaner fishing pails and 
poles. D 

Marika Bi/rd is a freelancer from Glen Allen and a 
regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife. She is a 
member of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Associa- 



2009 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on the De- 
partment's Web site at www.HuntFish- or call 804-367-7800. 

April 4: Trout Heritage Day 

April 4: Kids Fishing Heritage Day, 
Graves Mountain Lodge. Starts 9:00 
a.m. For more information, call 540- 

April 4: Youth Spring Turkey Hunt 
Day. For ages 15 and younger. 

April 11: Spring Turkey season 

April 11: Bluebell Festival, Merrimac 
Farm WMA, 

April 18-19: 9th annual Virginia Fly 
Fishing Festival, Waynesboro; 

April 22: Earth Day 

May 2: Chief Charlie's Kids Fishuig Day, 

May 8-10: Great Dismal Swamp Bird- 
ing Festival, Suffolk; wv^ 
northeast / greatdismalswamp / . 

May 9: International Migratory Bird 
Celebration, Chincoteague National 
Wildlife Refuge. 

May 15-17: Becoming an Outdoors- 
Woman®, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, 
Appomattox. Ages 18 and up. 

May 16: Spring Turkey season closes. 

May 16-22: National Safe Boating 

May 29-31: Mountain Lake Migratory 
Bird Festival, Pembroke; www.moun- 

June 5-7: Free Freshwater and Saltwater 
Fishing Days. D 

by Beth Hester 

Remarkable Trees of Virginia 

by Nancy Ross Hugo & Jeff Kirwan. 

Photography by Robert Llewellyn 

2008 Published by Albemarle Books- 


Distributed by University of Virginia 

Press - 

ISBN: 978-0-9742707-2-2 

"Our strongest impression after four 
years of focusing on trees and their habi- 
tats, is that a landscape rich in trees is no 
longer something Virginians can take for 
granted. Urbanization ami other pres- 
sures are too strong for us to assume we 
loill have trees by default. If Virginia is to 
continue to have trees and tree places 
wiU have to be by design. " 

Around 400 million years ago, 
the first recognizable trees appeared 
on Earth. With root networks reach- 
ing mysteriously into the soil, 
branches silhouetted against the sky 
and stretching toward an unknown 
heaven, it's easy to see why early cul- 
tures developed complex myth cy- 
cles based upon certain iconic trees. 
Biologically, aesthetically, and some 
might say, spiritually, it could be ar- 
gued that trees are our most valued 
life partners. 

Author Nancy Ross Hugo, 
forestry professor Jeff Kirwan, and 
photographer Robert Llewellyn 
spent over four years traveling 
around Virginia, discovering and 
documenting the hidden liistory be- 
hind some of our most significant 
trees. Launched in 2004 as the Re- 
markable Tree Project, a Web-based site 
enabled Virginians to submit their fa- 

vorite trees for inclusion in a keep- 
sake manuscript. Over 1,000 trees 
were nominated, and approximately 
100 appear in this volume. 

Ross Hugo acknowledges that 
the term "living witness" is almost 
unavoidable when describing trees, 
so momentous are the events that 
have unfolded beneath their 
canopies. For example. The Bromp- 
ton Oak in Fredericksburg, was cap- 
tured in a haunting Matthew Brady 
photograph, war-weary soldiers rest- 
ing beneath its branches. A tulip- 
poplar planted by Thomas Jefferson 
graces the grounds of Monticello, 
and a 300-year-old osage orange pre- 
sides over Patrick Henry's last home, 
at Red Hill in Charlotte County. The 
rings of one particular tree provide 
insights into the survival of our earli- 
est settlers. 

In addition to historic trees and 
physically noteworthy species, this 
document records important com- 
munity trees, like the spectacular 
sugar maple in Sperryville's town 
center, and the gnarly red mulberry 
in Henrico County. The photographs 
are stunning, and there is enough 
hard science and folklore to keep 
things interesting in the accompany- 
ing text. 

There are mighty oaks, a shag- 
bark hickory, cucumber magnolias, 
and sweetgum. In short, more of Vir- 
ginia's considerable trees than you 
can. ..well. ..shake a stick at. What is 
really remarkable, is the passionate 
coordination of will that brought the 
efforts of such organizations as the 
Virginia Tech Department of 
Forestry, Trees Virginia, 4-H clubs, 
and the Virginia Forestry Education- 
al Foundation to bear upon this proj- 
ect. Lush and scholarly, this hardback 
is a real treasure. It celebrates the 
inner lives of our arboreal partners, 
while stressing the necessity of their 
continued presence in our lives. D 



Wounded Warrior 
Spring Tlirkey Hunt 

On April Uth, the Virginia Hunter 
Education Association, in conjunc- 
tion with the DGIF and Nansemond 
River Baptist Church, will hold its 
2nd annual Wounded Warrior Spring 
Turkey Hunt. The first one, held in 
the small community of Whaleyville 
in Suffolk County, was such a success 
that a second was deemed a natural 
occurrence. Rob and Cindy Zepp will 
again host the event at their farm, and 
with the help of the many volunteers 
and sponsors, this year's hunt will be 
even more successful. 

Last year's hunters came from 
different branches of the service as 
well as eras of service: from the Kore- 
an Conflict through to the wars in 
Afghanistan and Iraq. The men were 
excited about what was to come and 
were not disappointed from the mo- 
ment they 'touched down' at Rob 
and Cindy's to the final 'dust off 
when, with teary eyes, a "See ya 
later" was passed around. As to the 
number of birds taken that day, only 
one was recorded. But from the 
smiles of all who participated, you 
would have thought everyone had 
checked one in. 

This year's hunt will be no less 
exciting. If the sponsors and volun- 
teers who pledged their support are 
any indicafion, the scale of this event 
will surely be grand. To the vendors 
and volunteers who did participate 
last year, we would like to say, 
"Thanks for your tireless efforts." We 
hope we can count on you again this 

Anyone wanting to help out or 
donate can do so through the Virginia 
Hunter Education Association at 

This report was contributed by hunter education 
instructor]. C. Gaitky, III. 


The "Upland Game Bird Trail" 
guide printed in the February 2009 
issue included only hunting pre- 
serves open to the general public. 
We regret any confusion caused. 

Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant and his wife, Liz, were on hand to 
kick off the new monofilament fishing line recycling program. Standing with the 
Secretary and his wife are DGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan (L) and Marine 
Resources Commissioner Steve Bowman (R). 


"I am smiling." 

Congratulations to Annabelle Buckles, 
who had a banner fishing day on the 
Holston River this past August. She 
shows up her dad, Allen (in the back- 
ground), with a catch of smallmouths 
and blue cats. 

Buy Your Lifetime License 

APRIL 2009 


by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Wild Turkey Jambalaya 

Many who haven't ventured into Cajun country or 
restaurants featuring that uniquely-styled, spicy 
fare likely have their entire knowledge of jambalaya in- 
formed by the hit song by the late Hank Williams, Sr., who 
reportedly adapted an old Cajun melody with some new 
words. To Hank's credit, jambalaya does match well with 
sharing a bowl of gumbo, crawfish pie, and good times 
with a "cher amio" (girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse). 

Jambalaya can be cooked in small batches indoors or 
in big pots over an outdoor flame. It is one of those 'one 
pot' meals and is said to have been derived from paella, re- 
flecting the Spanish influence over southern Louisiana. 

Cooking should be enjoyable and adaptable to individ- 
ual tastes; it is fun to experiment vdth jambalaya. The 
shrimp in this recipe can be omitted. Chicken, pork, or 
even oysters can be added or substituted. Beef stock can be 
swapped for chicken broth. More or less vegetables or gar- 
lic can be used and the cayenne pepper can be revved up for 
a hotter dish. The rice needs some fat to coat it during the 
cooking process, so at least one of the meats should yield a 
little fat to help out the butter. 

Other than the 'work' invested in getting and cleaning 
your v^ld turkey, jambalaya is also a relatively inexpensive 
dish to prepare and seems to taste especially good when 
you're having an outdoor affair in the spring or fall. 

Jambalaya pares well wdth a tossed salad, some crusty 
French bread, and a wane such as a Pinot Oris, Riesling, a 
light fruity red, or even a dry champagne. But, you'll never 
go wrong with beer and jambalaya. Some vegetable dishes 
that go well as sides are steamed asparagus (add a Hol- 
landaise sauce adorned v^th a few crav^ish tails or shrimp 
pieces) or a green bean dish, such as a casserole. 






tablespoons butter or margarine 

cups chopped onion 

cup chopped green pepper 

cup chopped scallions 

tablespoon garlic 

tablespoons fresh chopped parsley 

pound smoked sausage 

cup chopped ham 











cups wild turkey breast, cut into bite-sized pieces 

teaspoon black pepper 

teaspoon crushed red pepper 

teaspoon cayenne pepper 

teaspoon chili powder 

bay leaf, crushed 

teaspoon thyme 

teaspoon cloves 

cups rice 

cups chicken broth 

pound peeled shrimp 

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the 
onion, green pepper, scallions, garlic, parsley, and smoked 
sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add ham, turkey, and seasonings. Cook another 5 min- 
utes. Add the rice and broth. Raise heat and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until rice 
is tender and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, but 
do not stir so much or overcook that the rice gets mushy. If 
all liquid is absorbed before rice is tender, add more broth. 
If rice becomes tender and the mixture still has liquids, re- 
move cover and continue cooking for about 5 minutes or 
until liquid is absorbed. Mbc shrimp into the jambalaya 
and cook until pink. Serves 4 v^th ample helpings. D 



by Lynda Richardson 

Whose Digital Photograph Is This? 

The importance of adding your 

name and other kei/ information 

to your digital images. 

Last December, we reviewed hun- 
dreds of photographs for the an- 
nual photography competition, most 
of them digital files. When it came 
time to narrow our selections we kept 
running into one problem. Most of 
the digital entries did not have the 
photographer's name listed any- 
where within the file's metadata. 

Metadata is information embed- 
ded in a digital photo file. This infor- 
mation stays with the image wherev- 
er it goes. Camera settings such as 
ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are 
automatically recorded into tlie pho- 
tograph's metadata, but other infor- 
mation, such as the photographer 
and the location where it was shot, is 
not. This is something you have to 

It was very frustrating to have to 
look around for the original paper- 
work every time we wanted to find 
out something about an image we 
were judging. Why weren't photog- 
raphers including pertinent informa- 
tion in their digital files? 

My guess is that most photogra- 
phers just don't know how useful it is 
or how to do it. An earlier "Photo 
Tips" column addressed the impor- 
tance of including your name and 
other information within such digital 
files. In that column, I mentioned 
that, as digital photographers, ycui 
should always embed your name and 
other important details in your work! 

Here is how it's done. When you 
process your digital images, you use 
an image editing software program 
provided by either your camera 
manufacturer or another company, 
like Adobe. These programs not only 
offer the ability to lighten, darken, 
crop, and further manipulate your 
images; they also offer you a way to 
add necessary information to your 
photo files. 

APRIL 2009 

For example, in Photoshop CS3 
first open up a digital image, and 
then look uncier "File" at the top left 
of your screen and go down and click 
on "File Info." File Info will open a 
menu that offers you options for 
adding data to your files and allows 
you to view data already there. Look- 
ing closer at the File Info screen, you 
will see "IPTC Contact." This option 
opens a window where you can enter 
your name, address, phone number, 
e-mail address, and Web site. The in- 
formation you enter in this screen 
and then save will be embedded in 
that image file. To save time, yovi can 
save this contact information into a 
template which can be re-used with 
other images later. 

Under "Description," on the left 
where you located "IPTC Contact," 
you can add information in that 
screen about the image (what it is, 
where it was photographed) as well 
as copyright status and notification. 
This, too, can be copied into a tem- 
plate for re-use later. And... you 


don't have to individually save infor- 
mation to individual photographs! 
You can batch images and embecl the 
information in as many photographs 
as you'd like all at once! This is where 
templates become very handy. 

So, no more excuses! Make a pho- 
tography contest judge or a magazine 
editor happy today! Use the File Info 
feature in your image editing soft- 
ware, and Happy Shooting! D 

You are invited to submit one to five of 
your best photographs to "Image of the 
Month," Virginia Wildlife, P.O. Box 
11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Rich- 
mond, VA 23230-1104. Send original 
slides, super high-quality prints, or 
high-res 360 dpi jpeg files on disk and 
include a self-addressed, stamped en- 
velope or other shipping metlnod for re- 
turn. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where 
you captured the image and what cam- 
era and settings you used, along with 
your phone number. We look forward 
to seeing and sharing your work with 
the readers of Virginia Wildlifel 

Congratulations to Rockney Yobpforhis awesome image of a great blue heron with a huge 
shad, shot at Mason Neck State Park. Rockney gets on A+for entering his name and image 
description into the File Info of this image! Canon 5D digital SLR camera, Canon 400mm 
f 5. 6 lens, handheld, ISO 250, l/400th, fU.O. 


^— ^^^^ 

by Tom Guess 

What a Calm Night to be So Rough! 

/I s I walked out onto the Coast 
/I Guard Station deck ovedooking 
the mirror-like water of Milford 
Haven, I remember the chill of ap- 
proaching nightfall and the smell of 
smoke from a neighbor's chimney 
which left me 'chomping at the bit' to 
get underway on the bay. There was a 
royal blue and reddish sailor's sky. 
The stars and a full moon were start- 
ing to show as I sipped my coffee 
through its thick steam. 

February isn't normally a boat- 
ing month, but there was no wind, 
the water was like glass, and a nip in 
the air let you know it would be a 
cold, but quiet night on the water. As 
1 headed down to the dock to board 
our 25-foot SafeBoat, I was greeted by 
the other three members of the crew, 
doiTning their orange and black dry 
suits. The air temp was forecast to 
drop into the lower 30s and the water 
temp was in the mid-40s. 

Nearly 90% of boating fatalities 
occur due to drowning, and nearly 
half of those are attributed to the ef- 
fects of cold water immersion. Cold 
water cools a body 25 times faster 
than air of the same temperature. If 
the water temp drops below 50°F, the 
window of opportunity for rescue is 
only a few minutes. 

After going over our pre-under- 
way checklists, we left the station, 
heading out to the bay through Mil- 
ford Haven and under the Gwynn's 
Island swing bridge. It was standard 
practice to leave the cabin door open 
so that we could hear outside. Sea- 
gulls called out to us as we passed the 
Narrows, as if to ask why we were 
out on such a cold night. 

Shortly we made the right turn 
into the Piankatank; I started to bring 
the boat up on a plane and ap- 

proached cruising speed for our trip 
across the bay to the Eastern Shore. 
We headed out through the river's 
entrance buoys and into the Chesa- 
peake. The moon was reflecting off 
the water, causing sky and water to 
become lost at the horizon. The only 
way to differentiate between the two 
was during the passing of an occa- 
sional dead-rise or tug and barge. 

As we crossed the main shipping 
channel that met the Rappahannock 
Shoal ChaiTnel near the Eastern Shore 
range lights, one of the crewmembers 
reported a huge, slow contact off the 
starboard bow. It was a 600-foot car 
carrier, or PCC! Pure Car Carriers are 
ships that haul cars by sea. I decided 
to do a raciar plot on the ship and 
found it was making 20 knots (or 23 

Since the car carrier was in the 
main shipping channel and closing 
fast, I decided to tvirn back toward 
the range lights and let it go by before 
we made our transit across the chan- 
nel. I did this for two reasons: first, to 
let some of the new gtiys marvel at 

the size and height of the approach- 
ing ship; and second, to let them ap- 
preciate the full impact of what 
50,000 gross tons of steel will do to 
the water's surface. 

Once the car carrier passed, I 
quickly turned my bow into the rela- 
tive direction of the shipping channel 
and held position. I told the crew to 
hold on tight since we were going to 
be met by a sizeable wake. And quite 
the wake it was at approximately 5 
feet, followed by a series of 4 or 5 
waves in a row! 

While we were well prepared for 
the wake, the same situation could be 
tragic for a less experienced boater. 
When you're boating, be aware of all 
inherent dangers, especially those 
you may not routinely think of. Out- 
side forces can have serious conse- 
quences that may quickly turn your 
uneventful trip into a very rough 
one — even on such a calm night. D 

Tom Guess serves as the stateivide coordi- 
nator for the Boating Safety Educatio)i pro- 
gram at tlic DGIF. 





Limited Edition 
Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

Our 2008 Collector's knife has once again been customized by Buck Knives. 
The knife features a red-tailed hawk engraving, augmented by a natural 
woodgrain handle and gold lettering. A distinctive, solid cherry box features 
birds of prey. 

Item #VW-408 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 

2007 Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

Customized by Buck Knives, this classic model 1 10 folding knife is 8 1/2" 
long when fully opened and has a distinctive, natural woodgrain handle with 
gold lettering. Each knife is individually serial numbered and has a mirror pol- 
ished blade engraved with a fox. A solid cherry box engraved with foxes is in- 

Item #VW-407 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 


and Turtles 

From mountains to the coast, our plush collectibles will remind you of your 
favorite Virginia habitat. (Sizes range from 5" to 9" long) 


White-tailed Fawn 
Sea Turtle Set (2) 

$9.95 each 
$9.95 each 

Hooks & Horns 

Video Game 

Match wits against the king of upland game 
birds, the spring gobbler, and test your hunt- 
ing skills with the magnificent white-tailed 


$14.95 each 

To Order visit the Department's Web site at: or call (804) 367-2569. 

Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 



Wildlife Program 

Nongame Tax 
Checkoff Fund 

Celebrate the 27th anniversary of 
Virginia's Nongame Wildlife 
Program by helping to support essential 
research and management of Virginia's 
native birds, fish, and other nongame 

If you are due a tax refund from the 
Commonwealth of Virginia, you can 
contribute to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program by simply marking the 
appropriate place on this year's tax 
checkoff, on the Virginia state income 
tax form. 

If you would like to make a cash do- 
nation directly to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program using a Visa or Mas- 
terCard, you can visit the Department's 
Web site or mail a check made out to 
Virginia Nongame Program to Virginia 
Nongame Program, 4010 W. Broad St., 
Richmond, VA 23230-1104. 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 

Twelve issues for just $12.95! 

All other calls to (804) 367- 1 000 

Visit our Web site at 

2009 Kids 'n Fishing 
Plioto Contest 

♦ Children in tine picture must fall into one of the following 
age categories when the picture is token: 1-5 or 6-10. 

♦ Photos should not be nnore than one year old and 
must be taken in Virginia. Only one photo per child 
featured as subject, 

♦ Photos must be postmarked no later than June 20, 2009. 
Attach name, age, address, phone number, and fishing 
location to the bock of the photograph. 
Please do not write on the bock of the photographs. 

When in a boat, kids must be wearing a life jacket. 

♦ You must submit a Photo Contest Release Form along 
with your photograph. Check for 
release form and complete contest details. 

♦ Send entry to 2009 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest, VDGIF 
PC. Box 1 1 1 04, Richmond, VA 23230-1 1 04.